I arrived in Ambergris Caye, a short 20 minute flight from Belize International Airport, to the bustling and rustic oceanside town of San Pedro. This laid back island style town is amongst Belize’s most popular diving destinations due to its accessibility and proximity to the reef and the Hol-Chan Marine Reserve. It is reminiscent of days gone by Caribbean beach side communities with a combination of paved and sand roads and pathways leading to the beachside sandy boardwalk used as a main thoroughfare for accessing restaurants, bars, dive shops, hotels, the down town area and all of the waterfront services and amenities. You can walk almost anywhere and if you want to venture a little farther, all you need is to rent a golf cart, and your chariot awaits to discovery.
I stayed at the Sunbreeze hotel, one block from downtown San Pedro. I was greeted at the airport by the bellman that helped me with my bags to the hotel, a mere 2 minute walk from the airport. The large deluxe room was clean and very spacious. The Blue Water restaurant is located onsite and has a good menu selection. The bar is a favorite watering hole of hotel guests for après dive happy hour cocktails.
I dove with the onsite dive operator, Hugh Parkey’s Belize Dive Connection. The boat was extremely spacious and not overcrowded. The divemasters were helpful and attentive to divers. The dive sites are very close and the average boat ride can be as short as 5 – 10 minutes up to about 20 – 25 minutes. The reef has a variety of formations from hardpan, to finger reefs and caverns with swim-through’s. Fish life was good and varied, with many turtles to be sighted. On one very exciting dive we had five nurse sharks swimming and circling around divers in mid-water during our safety stop for over 10 minutes. It was a great photo opportunity to see these graceful animals swim effortlessly, and truly the highlight of the diving in San Pedro.
The real attraction in San Pedro is the town itself, and it shines like a diamond in the rough. Get out and explore and you’ll be charmed by what it has to offer. A visit to the aptly named Sunset Grill is a must. We very much enjoyed the views over the lagoon and mangroves for a cocktail and snacks watching the sun set over the mainland. BC’s Beach Bar, located right next to Sunbreeze hotel, is another favorite after dive stopover.
Visit San Pedro and you’ll be charmed by its relaxed and fun Caribbean style.
Written by Michael O’Meara